This post might be a bit existential and philosophical for some. If that sounds like something you'd hate (sure sounds like something I'd hate, but here I am), here is a nifty escape route. On you go, no-one would blame you...
For those who have stuck around, good for you, let's have a heart to heart.
This is a post about happiness, and what makes a person happy. Me specifically, because I'm not really bothered about whether anyone else is happy to be honest...
I write because it makes me happy. It's relaxing, fun, and it lets me get some stuff out of my brain that really shouldn't stay in there for too long.
Writing isn't a walk in the park. It's a challenge to sit one's arse down evening after evening and craft a novel. And then there's editing. I edit because I have to. Editing doesn't make me happy. But it's all part of the process to creating a piece of work.
So what else? The following list is not exhaustive, and I intend to expand on some of the points in separate blog posts.
Family. I have my awesome fiancee, who makes me happy every day, and in six weeks we will be married. We don't have any children, but we do have a fur baby, Dot, our 2 year old pug.
Climbing. I have a passion for climbing stuff. Much like writing, it's not easy, but topping a difficult route produces such a great sense of achievement.
Video games. Aside from writing and climbing this is the main thing I do to de-stress. Getting lost in the world of Fallout or The Witcher makes all of life's problems disappear for a little while.
Movies, TV, and books. Much like video games, other media also allows me to get lost in another world for a sense of contentment.
Money. Being a lawyer, y'all might understand that I have a certain fondness, bordering on a fetish, for money. Some say it's the route of all evil (not really something that bothers me), but having money allows people to have and do all sorts of things that broke folks just can't get. There is also the financial security element. Being in too much debt makes me nervous, which is counterproductive to being happy.
My job makes me happy from time to time. Whenever I am able to do something well, win or lose, I'm definitely filled with a sense of achievement, which is an undeniably good feeling.
Let's pause at this point for a moment: money essentially buys all of the things that make me happy (apart from my future-wife, but life is much less stressful when we aren't struggling to pay our bills, so it definitely enhances our home life). However, what do I do for money: work. Work can be enjoyable, but can also be stressful. Not every case goes my way. Some clients are massive pains in the arse. I have periods when I feel like I'm in a hole and don't even know how to begin getting myself out. So while work can be a source of happiness, it can also be a source of stress. In fact, it is probably the biggest source of stress in my life and the lives of everyone with a job.
So what's the point of this post? Being happy in life is important to me and everyone else. It would make sense to eliminate sources of unhappiness. But my main source of unhappiness is my job, which is the source of my money, which facilitates my happiness.
Well isn't that just fucking brilliant...
I'm nothing if not practical, so let's try to find a solution to this problem. I highly doubt there is such a thing as a job that doesn't have its downsides. Even if I did have a job which was less stressful, and required shorter hours, it would likely pay less, and less money = less capacity to do things that make me happy.
I could find some sources of happiness that require less money. Indeed there is a whole frugality movement online, led by this majestically moustached gentleman, but screw him and his hippie ways. I haven't been in a Starbucks in years since I started reading his blog, but I like the small comforts that remain too much to just give them up.
I think it would be fair to summarise my problem thusly: my job is stressful, but I need money.
Perhaps you're anticipating the conclusion to this article to be that I should pack in my job to become a full time writer and earn a living from that, but you would be wrong. Being dependent on my hobby for my income would ruin it, and would make it just as great a source of stress, if not greater, than my current job. So that's out.
My current working plan to develop some systems of investment that produce enough wealth that I no-longer have to work have a timescale of 20+ years. While that's a painfully long timescale, unfortunately it's all I've really got. 20 years of reasonable happiness, peppered with the dreadful misery of work, is a lot of goddamn years. I don't think I have any millionaire relatives at death's door, and I don't play the lottery, so it looks like the 20 year plan is where it's at.
Here begins my epic blog journey of trying to achieve fabulous wealth, and with it fabulous happiness, combined with fabulously low levels of work. How am I going to achieve it? Not a clue.